Christian Donath: Egypt -- Making Sense of the Senseless

tags: Egypt, Muslim Brotherhood, Mahmoud Morsi, Egyptian Revolution, Christian Donath



Christian Donath is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at The American University in Cairo.

After weeks of pro-Morsi demonstrations, the Egyptian military has now chosen to use force to end the sit-ins. With fatigue and anger toward the demonstrators high in Cairo, General al-Sisi and his allies believe that they have another 'popular mandate' to reassert control. Appalling and unnecessary violence has been the predictable result. Why they chose this heavy-handed approach over an earlier plan to starve out the sit-ins is unclear, but this episode marks a dangerous turn in the conflict. Al-Sisi et al. seem to be following one of two strategies:

First, forcibly remove the Muslim Brotherhood from the political scene altogether. Despite extreme rhetoric in the anti-Morsi media, al-Sisi and his allies aren't likely pursuing this strategy. Why? If the regime detained significant numbers of Muslim Brothers, it would still confront a problem akin to what Morsi faced as president: powerful and entrenched resistance. Morsi faced resistance from the 'felool' (remnants of the former regime) in strategic parts of the state bureaucracy thus constituting the so-called 'deep state'.

But the Brotherhood has penetrated strategic parts of society such as professional associations. Al-Sisi et al. thus would face a hostile 'deep society' of organised social groups and purging the Brothers would likely be difficult. Earlier regimes failed to get rid of the Muslim Brotherhood and it's unlikely that Sisi et al. will ignore this history....



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